Welcome to Byrdie's new series, Next Gen, where we profile Gen Z celebrities, influencers, and entrepreneurs. As a collective, members of Gen Z are dynamic trendsetters and culture shifters. And when it comes to beauty and wellness, they have ushered more creativity, inclusivity, and transparency into the industry. In this column, we're stepping into the minds of some of the most notable Gen Z'ers to learn more about how they are redefining beauty, the products they swear by, and their plans for the future.
There are many reasons why ABC's Black-ish was a hit—Marsai Martin is one of them. For eight seasons, Martin made audiences laugh as the show's smart and sassy little sister Diane. When the actress began the show, she was ten years old and new to Hollywood. Now, she's 18 and one of the industry's most influential teens. She's used her global platform purposefully, consistently working on projects and initiatives that celebrate diversity and the power of Gen Z.
In 2019, she launched her production company, Genius Entertainment. Under the entity, she's created films like Little, earning a Guinness World Record for being the youngest person to executive produce a major Hollywood film. She's also inked deals with major television and film players like Universal Studios, Disney Channel, and Discovery+. Outside of entertainment, Martin is making equally impressive moves. The award-winning multi-hyphenate entered the beauty industry earlier this year, launching a press-on nail brand called Mari by Marsai. Not to mention, she's taken on partnerships with brands including Armani Beauty, Philips Sonicare, Invisalign, and Noxzema. TL;DR: Marsai Martin is the poster child of being booked and busy. Ahead, she fills us in on her thoughts on turning 18, the best beauty lesson she's learned, and how she practices self-care.
You turned 18 in August. How do you feel about starting this new chapter of young adulthood?
Honestly, it's very different. Once you're 18, a lot of doors open when it comes to work opportunities. However, you're also dealing with new ups and downs regarding people and work environments. It opens your eyes a little bit more. However, I am excited to learn new things. I look at my life as chapters. 15 or 16-year-old Marsai would think differently, but 18-year-old Marsai is going into the world with a fresh perspective. I'm becoming more patient and observant. I'm looking forward to new opportunities and seeing what the world looks like for adult Marsai.
What are you most proud of when you reflect on how you've grown since you entered the entertainment industry?
I am most proud of my consistency. I don't care what anybody says; consistency is one of the hardest things. It's super easy to get lazy in this industry, especially when you reach a certain stature in your life and feel like this is enough. So, I'm proud of my ability to be consistent and still find different things I love to do. Throughout my childhood, I've realized I love learning things. At one point in time, I was just an actress. Now, I've discovered I love producing. I want to keep growing.
You became a beauty founder earlier this year with the launch of your press-on nail brand, Mari. What has that experience been like thus far?
Being a founder and keeping up with a business is difficult, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I love growing new passions, and press-on nails have always been one of the things that helped boost my confidence. I loved wearing press-on nails growing up. It was one of the only things I had control over during the early days of Black-ish. In the early seasons, I wouldn't get to wear makeup. I would only wear chapstick and some eyebrow gel. So, creating my press-on nail brand allowed me to touch back on something the younger me loved and turn it into something for everyone. We launched in February of this year, so it's crazy to think it'll almost be a year. However, I'm looking forward to what we have coming up.
What's the best beauty advice you've learned from a family member, your glam team, or one of your co-stars?
I'm not the type to ask for advice. But I'm very observant and notice how other people express themselves. Growing up, I was around amazing legends on Blackish. By watching them, I learned how important it is to be comfortable. When it comes to your hair, makeup, and wardrobe, you need to wear what makes you feel like you. That's the only thing that matters to me, especially when it comes to red carpets and photo shoots. I love to stay comfortable. I never walk out of the house wearing something I don't like to please other people. I think it's hard for people my age to stop people pleasing. But I've learned to focus on myself and what makes me happy.
You also serve as an ambassador for several cool beauty and wellness brands. You were most recently named Philips Sonicare's first-ever Come Back Coach. What made you want to sign on to this partnership?
I always use their toothbrushes—they're in my bathroom right now. Oral care is so important, and these toothbrushes are amazing because they have timers that ensure you brush each quad of your mouth for the right amount of time. So, it made perfect sense when Philips Sonicare asked me to be their Come Back Coach. Projects like this make me happy because they align with my mission to support health, wellness, and self-care.
Speaking of self-care, what does Marsai's perfect day off look like?
Oh, a day off is a dream. I'll definitely spend the day cleaning. I love a good reset, whether that involves doing my morning routine or enjoying a home-cooked meal. My grandma lives with us, and she's a caterer. I love to stay home and eat something she cooked while binge-watching something on Netflix. I also love going to get a massage.
What are you most excited about right now?
My movie, Fantasy Football, will be on Paramount+ on November 25. We have press for that coming up, which is very exciting. I just finished filming season one for the show I'm producing on Disney Channel, Saturdays. Sneak peeks should be out very soon. I have a lot of other things in the works that I can't talk about yet, but I'll say a lot of exciting opportunities have come about since I turned 18. Outside of work, I'm ready for the holidays and all the cheer.